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Help... 1978–79 Buicks for the Iranian market?


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Posted (edited)

Hi everyone,

I have a very specific and obscure query that I'm sure has never been asked here before. I'm wondering if anyone might have any information, data, or literature pertaining to Buicks made for the Iran market in 1978 or 1979, just prior to the Iranian Revolution. It might not have to be for Iran specifically, but maybe at least for the Middle Eastern market.

The reason I'm asking is because my grandfather, who was then the President of the National Iranian Oil Company, special-ordered a Buick Electra Park Avenue Sedan new in 1978 as his company car. Whether it was a '78 or '79 isn't clear... I personally know all about the cosmetic differences between those years, but my mom's memories from 42 years ago aren't quite as vivid as they used to be. I've showed her photos of both '78 and '79 examples, and I've gotten conflicting answers as to which one it was. She has even said that the shades of green offered (at least for the US market) aren't quite right. My grandfather passed away two years before I was born, so unfortunately I can't ask him.

I'm just trying to find out whether the options, colors, trims, or anything else were different for the Iranian market. The car was metallic green, with green velour upholstery and a green vinyl top. It was returned to the company upon his resignation in 1979, and it was never seen again.

Any pointers would be greatly appreciated. I have already emailed the GM Heritage Center, but I haven't heard back.

Thanks!

Edited by Shervinator
Grammar (see edit history)
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I suspect that if there were some specific reasons to NOT have a particular color (inside or outside), the available colors would have tended to mirror what was available normally in a USA-destination vehicle.  From what I remember from the old GM-Middle East website of the 1990s, the main differences in the Middle East-desitination vehicles seemed to be more in the mechanical area than the cosmetic area. 

 

The exception to the exterior colors would have been the use of "fleet colors" for orders going to particular company employees who needed those colors on their vehicles.  Only thing is that those colors usually had a minimum order quantity attached to them and they were ONLY for that company's vehicles.  But they could also, in some cases, be a color that would appear the next model year, which some dealer groups might order to meet the minimum order quantity for the color.

 

Hope this might help,

NTX5467

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10 minutes ago, NTX5467 said:

I suspect that if there were some specific reasons to NOT have a particular color (inside or outside), the available colors would have tended to mirror what was available normally in a USA-destination vehicle.  From what I remember from the old GM-Middle East website of the 1990s, the main differences in the Middle East-desitination vehicles seemed to be more in the mechanical area than the cosmetic area. 

 

The exception to the exterior colors would have been the use of "fleet colors" for orders going to particular company employees who needed those colors on their vehicles.  Only thing is that those colors usually had a minimum order quantity attached to them and they were ONLY for that company's vehicles.  But they could also, in some cases, be a color that would appear the next model year, which some dealer groups might order to meet the minimum order quantity for the color.

 

Hope this might help,

NTX5467

That's an intriguing thought. I had never considered the fleet idea. I don't believe there were too many green-on-green-on-green Park Avenues ordered by the company, if there were any others at all. As far as I know, the car was basically his personal car bought and paid for by the company while he was employed there. Does that sound like it would have qualified as a fleet vehicle?

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I believe Buicks were built in Iran between 1978 and 1981 but not sure if they were CKDs or ground up builds, Either way, they may have been painted very specifically for the tastes of the market.

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Correct—however, those were specifically Buick Skylarks badged as the Buick Iran (and made by GM Iran). The Electra Park Avenue in question must have been manufactured in the US. But I wonder if they would have made colors at the Flint plant that differed from colors offered for the US market.

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In the case of the "national fleet customers", those colors were only available on the vehicles that company would order, period.  That company's service truck fleet and company cars for the sales reps, for example.  

 

In the case of the "next year's color, but a year early", it usually took over 1000 vehicles to get those colors.  Usually, a dealer group in a particular marketing area (as in Dallas-Fort Worth) would go together to make that volume of vehicles, which were probably built all in the same batch of vehicles.

 

To further complicate things, for about $50.00 or so you could get a Cadillac-only color on a Buick, or other non-Cadillac vehicle.  This was probably limited to plants where two makes of similar cars were built.  As in the Arlington, TX plant which built Roadmasters, Sedan DeVilles, and Pontiac full-size cars on the same assembly lines, for example.

 

Back then, too, there were more than just a black/charcoal and sand beige interior colors.  There were reds, blues, greens, tans, etc., as a normal situation.  Which would make the "triple pickle" situation not that odd or unusual.  Where things got interesting was the light/medium/dark versions of the particular color, usually, with the darker color as the interior color and vinyl roof color.

 

You can find reproductions of sales brochures at www.eatondetroitspring.com.  On that front page with the drop-down menus to describe the vehicle, on the right hand side is "Links".  Click on that and it should bring up the appropriate sales brochure.

 

Just some thoughts,

NTX5467

Edited by NTX5467 (see edit history)
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Posted (edited)

Great thinking. I did take a look at those brochures. Factory metallic green exterior colors offered for '78 Electras were Light Green (44) and Medium Green (45). Both look awfully similar to each other, to the point where I sometimes can't tell the difference. For '79, they just made one metallic green (more yellowed, less turquoise than the previous year) and called it Medium Green (code 44 this time, to make things even more confusing). They added another color called Light Green (40), which wasn't metallic. Very creative with names and codes, GM was.

 

But I had no idea colors from other makes could be ordered that easily. $50.00, even in late '70s money, seems like a very small sum to ask for something that would inconvenience the factory. Were all '78 and '79 Electras made at the Flint plant? If so, what else was built there at the time?

Edited by Shervinator (see edit history)
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